Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
And to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
Till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.
Psalm 71:17,18 NIV
I’M A CHILD OF THE KING
My father is rich in houses and lands, he holdeth the wealth of the world in his hands!
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold, His coffers are full, He has riches untold.
I’m a child of the King, a child of the King!
With Jesus my Saviour, I’m a child of the King!
(Harriet E. Buell, 1834-1910)
Mother’s chuckle stung and puzzled me as she was walking me to the outhouse at the Springfield Pentecostal Holiness Church. It was after dark but there was some light from the ground level windows of that half dug-out church. The chuckle was because of our conversation:
“Who’s going to preach?” I asked.
“Because he doesn’t preach very long.”
My earliest memory of a church was as hardly more than a toddler being carried up the steps at the Pritchett Church. That seems almost impossible, but it is there in my brain. Questions to my mother confirmed that that memory really did happen. However, my first “I remember whens…” happened at the Springfield Church.
I remember going down steps to my Sunday School room.
I remember Aunt Bertha and my favorite cousins were there.
I remember when Leo and Lazetta got saved.
I remember we sang Sweeping Through the Gates and Will There Be Any Stars.
I remember my grandma and aunts all wore long sleeves.
I remember my mom didn’t.
I remember singing by myself. I was the star – Everybody loved me. (Now that I have my own grandchildren, I can identify with that time more realistically. But it was important in establishing my identity.) It is important to know you are loved.
I’ve forgotten part of the song I sang, but I remember the part that spoke to me. It was about Jesus asking me to do something for him; I said no because I was busy; It ended: “One day I needed the Lord; I needed him right away; And down in my accusing heart, I could hear him say: ‘You get somebody else or wait ‘til I get through.’ ” Bad theology? Maybe, but we tend to ignore scriptures like John 14:21 “ He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Did that theology have the right effect? Yes. It probably has reached even to today when I got out of bed to work on this. I know I’m saved by grace but I still want to keep his command. I had so much love, attention, and involvement in that little church, fire-and-brimstone- preachin’and There’s-an-Eye-Watching-You-singin’ was balanced by Jesus died to save you from hell and He wants you to do good things that lay up treasures in Heaven and earn stars in your crown.
In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,
Let me watch as a winner of souls;
That bright stars may be mine in that glorious day
When His praise like the sea billows rolls. (Sweeney, 1897)
Of course that’s not exactly right – there is a crown for the soul winner rather than a star, but the effect was the same.